Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

’Tis the season for a Christmas rhapsody


With flowers in bloom, shoppers in flip-flops and highs in the mid-70s, it doesn't look a lot like Christmas, anywhere you go. So around these parts, we have to do the next best thing: Close our eyes and listen as the Dunedin Concert Band presents A Christmas Rhapsody, a Boston Pops-style holiday celebration. It comes with a memory-back guarantee that you will return to fields of snow and pine-scented holiday gatherings.

"These are some of the best arrangements of Christmas carols and medleys I've ever heard, and I've been conducting for over 40 years," said Dr. Louis Alan Zagar, the band's music director and conductor. He listened to more than 100 orchestrations within a four-month period before making his final selection.

This weekend, as the band opens its 30th anniversary concert season, two performances are scheduled: 8 p.m. today and 3 p.m. Sunday. The free concerts take place in Edinburgh Hall at the Dunedin Community Center, 1920 Pinehurst Road. Free-will donations, the only source of income for the band, are accepted.

Plan to get there early; last year's show drew a full house, and then some.

"There were no seats to be had," Zagar said. "People were sitting on each other's laps. We had to set up a closed-circuit TV so about 75 could watch the concert in the hallway. An additional 250 were turned away."

Afterward, he was told it might be a good idea to schedule two performances this year.

The original band was organized in 1981 by Ray Hawkinson. When he ran an advertisement in the newspaper asking for musicians, "a whopping 12 people showed up," Zagar said.

Throughout the years, the band had its ups and downs. When Zagar took over in 2008, the group was within a few days of being disbanded, he said.

"There were only 27 band members and they were playing to small audiences."

Zagar, a professional conductor, clarinetist and instrumental music educator, brought gusto and passion to the group -— along with a healthy sense of humor.

Tonight, 10 of the earliest members will be in the 70-piece ensemble, with musicians ranging in age from 13 to 90. Collectively, members have extensive experience playing in the 1940s Big Bands and in military, high school, college and other ensembles.

The band will present 23 traditional carols and beloved musical selections including a Mannheim Steamroller rendition of Away in the Manger.

The concert opens with A Christmas Fantasy, a montage of Joy to the World, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Angels We Have Heard on High and other favorites.

Soprano Pamela Hood Kooyenga will return to sing White Christmas; the arrangement is from the 1942 film Holiday Inn starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

And get ready for a special Riverdance-style rendition of Greensleeves a.k.a. What Child Is This?

"It's called Celtic Carol and it's not your Grandma's Greensleeves," Zagar said. "It's wild and wooly and flies like the wind. It features the entire percussion section with Irish spoons, snare drums, cymbals, all sorts of stuff.

"They play it like they own it."

Email feature story ideas for Diversions to Terri Bryce Reeves at [email protected] Events must take place in North Pinellas.

.If you go

A Christmas Rhapsody

What: A holiday concert by the City of Dunedin Concert Band, directed and conducted by Dr. Louis Alan Zagar.

When: 8 p.m. today and 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Dunedin Community Center, 1920 Pinehurst Road

Admission: Free, donations accepted.

Info: Call (727) 812-4530.

’Tis the season for a Christmas rhapsody 12/15/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 15, 2011 5:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Google parent leads $1B Lyft investment, deepening Uber rift


    SAN FRANCISCO — Google's parent company is throwing its financial support behind ride-hailing service Lyft, deepening its rift with market leader Uber.

    This  file photo shows a smartphone displaying the Lyft app.Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., is throwing its financial support behind ride-hailing service Lyft, deepening its rift with market leader Uber. [Associated Press, 2016]
  2. Check out what this former Buc has cooking in Buffalo


    Leonard Johnson is thrilled to extend his NFL career in Buffalo this season, but whenever his playing days are over, the former Bucs cornerback is ready for life after football.

    He's actually pretty excited.

    Buffalo Bills cornerback Leonard Johnson catches a pass during an NFL football training camp in Pittsford, N.Y., Saturday, July 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
  3. Editorial: Arrests show construction licensing board's faults


    Ripping off consumers got a little harder in Pinellas County this week after teams of deputies launched a predawn operation and arrested unlicensed contractors. It was a needed crackdown on a problem that appears rampant in Pinellas because the agency charged with overseeing local contractors has no policing …

    Ripping off consumers got a little harder in Pinellas County this week after teams of deputies executed a predawn operation, arresting unlicensed contractors.
  4. Dade City teen arrested after authorities say he pulled fake gun on student


    DADE CITY — A 14-year-old boy faces felony charges after he pulled a fake gun on a Pasco Middle School student near the school Wednesday afternoon, according to authorities.

  5. Live blog: Crowd shouts at Richard Spencer as he speaks in Gainesville


    GAINESVILLE — A small army of law enforcement officers, many of them from cities and counties around the state, have converged on the University of Florida in preparation for today's speaking appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

    Florida Highway Patrol cruisers jammed the parking lot Wednesday at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville, part of a big show of force by law enforcement ahead of Thursday's appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer. [KATHRYN VARN | Times]